Sunday, July 9, 2017
G20 - 1
It's been dubbed the G19 since the United States essentially chose to abstain from the summit other than the few issues that suited His Trumpness. For part of the second day he had Ivanka sit in for him as apparently he had more pressing matters to attend to. In response to Anne Applebaum's angry criticism of this unprecedented display of nepotism, Ivanka probably knows more about these issues than does her father.
Team Trump proudly announced a "cease-fire" in a region of Syria bordering Jordan. This came out of the much ballyhooed 2-hour meeting with Putin. One assumes this means Russia will hold back bombing missions in this disputed region for an unspecified period of time.
David Gergen offered plenty of praise for the "robust" meeting but was quick to note that this is the first time he had seen a US President come to the G20 and no longer be regarded as the leader. It was clearly Angela Merkel's show from start to finish with Trump pretty much relegated to the sidelines.
Much to her chagrin, the G20 had to accommodate the US's lone objection to the Paris Climate Agreement, making a provision for fossil fuels. Kind of like the lone kid being unable to participate in physical education class because of bone spurs on his heels.
Can the US any longer be regarded as the leader of the free world? This should be the question that dominates the airwaves this week unless of course Trump fires off some angry tweets to deflect attention away from his not-so-tremendous showing at Hamburg.
It is truly sad to see the US no longer a major player on the international front. Trump's isolationist stance on many global issues has left the US alone in the world, with its influence shrinking right before our eyes. It is doubtful we will ever regain our dominance short of a world war, as the G20 demonstrates just how many countries are now global players. Rather than work with these countries in a meaningful way, as Obama tried to do, Trump is content to go it alone, striking up bilateral deals where it suits him and hoping that will be enough to keep his presidential administration afloat. He promises a big trade deal with the UK very, very soon.
The UK right now is more worried about its future relationship with the EU, as Theresa May is not in a position of power. Of course, a big US trade deal will help assuage the damage her party took in the recent parliamentary elections, but in no way will it make up for a bad deal, or no deal at all with the EU, its major trading partner. The UK would have to see a two-and-a-half times increase in exports to the US to make up for the shortfall from the loss of trade with the EU, which is not likely given Trump's insistence on reducing the trade deficit the US has with so many countries, including the UK.
Of course, much of this will fly right over the heads of his red-capped constituency, and no doubt Congressional Republicans will similarly ignore the blunders their president made in Hamburg. Already, we see his administration spokespersons trying to soft pedal his performance, even if it contradicts what he said himself in televised appearances.
His surrogates can spin the G20 anyway they like but the US is no longer a global leader. Trump has made our country an incidental player. Whether it is trade or climate change or empowering women entrepreneurs, which Ivanka has made her pet project, the US is no longer in the vanguard. I suppose we can rationalize this by saying the day would have come anyway, given all these rising global economic powers, but one would think our POTUS would try to remain in the thick of things. Not Trump, he was probably dreaming of a round of golf, stopping off in Scotland on his way home.